New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who visited campus in January, said in the final speech of her bid for the presidency that her supporters put “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling.”
But her unsuccessful run for the White House calls into question whether the ceiling is far from broken.
“She made inroads, but we’re not through it yet,” said Debbie Walsh, director at the Center for American Woman in Politics. “She jumped over that bar that showed she was tough enough for that office. But the media couldn’t handle it. That’s where the sexism and gender slurs came in.”
Clinton delivered her final speech earlier this month and endorsed Sen. Barack Obama as the Democratic Party nominee for U.S. president.
“I think it’s great to have a women go as far as she has, but I choose not to look at it as breaking the glass ceiling,” said Moreen Rubin, a psychology major at CSUN. “It’s ridiculous to see a candidate as black or white, male or female. We need to look at just the issues.”
Clinton insisted that she was not running as a woman throughout her campaign, but as the best candidate for president. In her final speech, she acknowledged the sexism that women confront as they climb to leadership roles.
“I am a woman, and like millions of women, I know there are still barriers and biases out there, often unconscious,” Clinton said. “I want to build an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us.”
During the 16 months and 22 on-stage debates with Obama, Clinton’s campaign was smeared with sexist remarks.
During the New Hampshire primary, Clinton’s speech was interrupted when two men screamed, “Iron my shirt!” suggesting that a woman’s place is in the laundry room, not the Oval Office.
A nutcracker resembling Clinton, only with shark-like teeth between her legs, was created as a marketing gimmick and was widely advertised. The nutcracker stemmed from sexist remarks by MSNBC News Anchor, Tucker Carlson, who said he involuntarily crosses his legs when he sees Clinton on TV.
At a South Carolina event, another sexist remark was levied against Clinton when a supporter of Sen. John McCain asked, “How do we beat the bitch?” McCain laughed and said, “That’s an excellent question.”
Racism was also a factor in the fight for the Democratic Party nomination. Two preachers from Obama’s former church, the Chicago-based Trinity United Church of Christ, delivered racist and sexist remarks.
Video clips of Obama’s former Rev. Jeremiah Wright delivering comments like “God Damn America” were widely distributed and stirred up discussions about racism in America.
Michael Pfleger, a guest minister for the church, recently mocked Clinton for getting teary-eyed during the New Hampshire primary in January.
“When Hillary was crying, I really believe that she just always thought, ‘This is mine. I’m Bill’s wife. I’m white,'” Pfleger said.
Obama repeatedly apologized, but he insisted that the comments did not come from him directly and he could not be held responsible for other people’s remarks.
“Racism is seen as taboo in terms of the media saying it, but it is still out there,” Walsh said. “Both are unacceptable. Hillary was directly attacked with gender slurs that were seen as humorous ? they were degrading.”
To date, women occupy 87 of the 535 seats in the U.S. Congress. Women also occupy 71 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.
“You can be so proud that, from now on, it will be unremarkable to think that a woman can be the president of the U.S.,” Clinton told her supporters at the historic National Building Museum in Washington D.C., which was built in the late 1800s when the women’s movement was on the rise. “And that is truly remarkable, my friends.”
Clinton encouraged her audience to support Obama and reiterated his campaign slogan, “Yes We Can.”
Erin McCaslin, a former CSUN student who saw Clinton’s speech on CNN, said she was not convinced that a woman could ever be president.
“Can we really?” McCaslin said.